Program in Media and Modernity

Princeton University

the directors


Beatriz Colomina [Architecture]

Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture
Director of Graduate Studies, Ph.D. Program
Director, Program in Media and Modernity
Titulo de Arquitecto and Ph.D., Escola Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona

Office: Architecture Building S114 (first floor)

Beatriz Colomina is an internationally renowned architectural historian and theorist who has written extensively on questions of architecture, art, technology, sexuality, and media. She is Founding Director of the interdisciplinary Media and Modernity Program at Princeton University and Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Architecture. Her work has been published in more than 25 languages and her books include: Are We Human? Notes on an Archeology of Design (Lars Müller, 2016), The Century of the Bed (Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2015),  Das Andere/The Other: A Journal for the Introduction of Western Culture into Austria(MAK Center for Art and Architecture, 2016), Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies (Sternberg, 2014), Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X (Actar, 2010), Domesticity at War (MIT Press, 2007), Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (MIT Press, 1994), and Sexuality and Space (Princeton Architectural Press, 1992). Sexuality and Space was awarded the 1993 International Book Award by the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Privacy and Publicity was awarded the 1995 International Book Award by the AIA, and has been published in seven languages. Her latest publication X-Ray Architecture (Lars Müller Publishers, 2019) explores the enormous impact of medical discourse and imaging technologies on the formation, representation, and reception of twentieth-century architecture. It challenges the normal understanding of modern architecture by proposing that it was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis and its primary diagnostic tool, the X-ray.

Colomina has lectured extensively at universities and art museums throughout the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Architectural Institute of Japan, Guggenheim in New York, the Center for Contemporary Art and Architecture in Stockholm, the DIA Art Foundation in New York, Tate Britain in London, Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, ETH in Zurich, Delft University, Bauhaus University in Weimar, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Lebanese American University, University of Beirut and Seoul University.

She has curated a series of international exhibitions, based on archival and oral history research, as interfaces to communicate research to a wider audience with physical installations, digital platforms and new forms of publication. These exhibitions, which traveled to multiple international locations, include: Clip/Stamp/Fold (2006), Playboy Architecture (2012) and Radical Pedagogies (2014). Colomina was the chief curator of Curated by Vienna: The Century of the Bed, a show involving a network of 22 art galleries in Vienna in 2014. Most recently, she was co-curator of the third Istanbul Design Biennial (2016) on the theme Are We Human? The Design of the Species and contributed an installation on the question of social media to the inaugural biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in Seoul, which opened in September 2017.

Colomina has been the recipient of diverse awards and fellowships, including the Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellowship at the CASVA (Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts), SOM Foundation, Le Corbusier Foundation, Graham Foundation, the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture), The American Academy in Berlin and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. She is on the advisory board of multiple institutions, including The Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid, The Istanbul Design Biennial, The Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture in Lyon, ARCH+ in Berlin, The Oslo Center for Critical Architectural Studies (OCCAS), Beyond Media in Florence and The Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. In 2005 she received the Princeton University President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.


Thomas Y. Levin [German]

Associate Professor of German
Director, Program in Media and Modernity

Office: 210 East Pyne Building

Thomas Levin joined the Princeton faculty in 1990 following graduate study in art history and philosophy at Yale University and after a year in Los Angeles as a fellow at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. His teaching and scholarship range from Frankfurt School cultural theory and the history and theory of film (cinema & philosophy, early German cinema, Weimar cinema, New German Cinema) to various aspects of media theory (archaeologies of vision, rhetorics of new media, cultural politics of surveillance) and sound studies. Levin has been a fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften IFK (Vienna), at the Collegium Budapest/Institute for Advanced Study (Budapest), and a Senior Fellow at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in 2004 and at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) at the Bauhaus Universität Weimar in 2011.  Together with his Princeton colleague Nikolaus Wegmann and the two directors of the IKKM, Bernhard Siegert & Lorenz Engell, Levin co-founded the Princeton-Weimar Media Studies Summer School in 2010, which he has co-directed every other year since its inception.

Levin’s work as a curator dates back to his participation in the curatorial collective that mounted the first major museum show devoted to the work of the Situationist International: “On the Passage of a few people through a rather brief moment in time: The Situationist International 1957-1972” opened at Centre Georges Pompidou (February-April 1989) and then travelled to the ICA London (June-August 1989) and the ICA Boston (October 1989-January 1990).  In 1999 Levin was chosen by the Dutch Ministry of Culture to be “curator-in-residence” at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, where he developed a project entitled “Celluloid Rembrandtiana” that investigated the dynamics of cultural nationalism and mass media through a program of over a dozen films on Rembrandt (1920 to 1999) which was subsequently shown at the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt/Main, at the Arsenal Kino in Berlin, and, in the USA, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2005) and the St. Louis Art Museum (2006). During the academic year 2000-01, which he spent in Germany as the academic director of the Berlin Consortium for German Studies at the FU-Berlin, Levin also curated a major international exhibition entitled “CTRL [SPACE]: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother” which was on view at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe through late February 2002.  Besides a number of further publication and curatorial projects related to his research on the aesthetic politics of surveillance –including the 2002 exhibitions “Anxious Omniscience” at the Princeton University Art Musuem and “9/11 + 1: The Perplexities of Security” at Brown University’s Watson Center– Levin also organized a one-day conference at the Louvre Museum in Paris in November 2005 entitled “Photographie, Prison, Pouvoir: Politiques de l’Image Carcérale” which re-examined the history of the “carceral image” in the wake of Abou Ghraib.  Levin went on to curate a small show (drawn from his personal collection of the work of the Situationist International) entitled “‘The Arts of the Future will be radical transformations of situations, or they will be nothing’: Guy Debord Cineaste” at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia (2006) and “Sound Mail: Samples from the Curious History of Audio Epistolaries,” an exhibition of gramophonic postcards and other audiovisual artifacts from his archive (with the collaboration of Jennifer Eberhardt) at the Mendel Music Library, Woolworth Center for Musical Studies, Princeton University (2008).

As the winner of the prestigious Einstein Prize, Levin was the Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for Literary Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin from 2010-2014, where he directed a large-scale research project on the media archaeology of voice mail.  This ongoing work on questions of aesthetics, technology, and sound, which gave rise to the Princeton Phono-Post Archive, grew out of Levin’s longstanding research interest in metronomes, gramophones, and the prehistory of acoustic inscription, as well as his activities as associate editor of The Musical Quarterly, where he was for many years responsible for the section Institutions, Industries, and Technologies of Music.  Most recently, Levin has been collaborating with his Princeton colleague in Computer Science Prof. Adam Finkelstein on a completely unknown ur-chapter of the history of audio epistolary: voice postcards from the beginning of the 20th-century. Funded by two generous multi-year grants from the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project and the Dean for Resarch Innovation Fund, Levin & Finkelstein have developed an innovative method of capturing the voice mail recorded on these fragile cards in 1905-07 using entirely non-tactile, optical/algorithmic means.